Diving Into Fashion's Newest Fitness Class Trend, CityRow

Watch out, Olsen Twins: There's a new "The Row" in town.
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Nora Crotty
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Watch out, Olsen Twins: There's a new "The Row" in town.
CityRow's studio. Photo: Braden Istas

CityRow's studio. Photo: Braden Istas

Let me start by saying, I am not a fitness person. But I want to be -- I really do. So when the opportunity arose to try out the latest fashion person fitness trend, CityRow, I jumped at it. Watch out, Olsen Twins: There's a new "The Row" in town.

Think of CityRow as the other water-related equivalent to SoulCycle. Instead of stationary bikes, everyone in the class has a rowing machine, just like the ones actual rowers use to practice on and build strength when they're not in a boat. And unlike spinning, you aren't constricted to the equipment throughout the 50-minute-long workout. Instructed rowing is interspersed with regular intervals of intense mat work, which includes free weights, planking and squats.

I almost died. But in the best way possible.

As CityRow founder and CEO Helaine Knapp told us, "I think we've really taken [group workouts] to the next level here, in the sense that it's high intensity, but it's low impact. You're getting that really awesome cardio burn and sweat-feel that people -- especially people in fashion -- really love. They don't have a lot of time to work out -- and you want to have fun while you're doing it." The studio has been frequented by models since day one, though Knapp wouldn't name names.

Our instructor Beth Lewis, who says she lost two percent of her seemingly non-existent body fat after just two months of doing CityRow, went more in-depth. "The thing about rowing is, it's a compound exercise. You're basically doing a dead lift with a pull, but you're doing it in such a way that it's a power exercise -- which is fantastic for building muscle, building endurance and also increasing your metabolism." Meaning, it's even more effective than that other workout trend. "Spinning is a great exercise," says Lewis, "but you don't tend to get that compound movement with power. That in itself is great for getting results as far as building muscle, increasing your metabolism and changing your body composition."

Photo: Braden Istas

Photo: Braden Istas

The Greenwich Village studio only opened in early January, and "response has been great," Lewis says. "The general consensus is that it's a really freaking hard workout, period, the end. But it's hard in a way that stresses your physicality, not your well-being. So there's zero joint pain, there's zero impact -- none of that is a factor. So you can really just focus on the task at hand, without worrying about getting hurt."

I can attest. My "Signature Row" workout was on a Friday evening, and I could still feel the after-effects -- particularly in my core -- come Monday morning. (Results may not be typical. Admittedly, I'm kind of a nana.) According to CityRow, each class is designed to burn 400 — 600 calories, which, if I'm not mistaken, is about two bags of peanut butter M&Ms.

Sessions cost $32 a pop, with special rates available for new client, students and packages classes. The studio also plans to announce a discounted 30-day challenge leading up to Memorial Day, slated to begin April 26. For more information, visit CityRow.com.